Moke Hamilton, SNYNets.comNEW YORK — Interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo coached the Nets to victory in his debut. Behind a 26 point effort from Brook Lopez, the Nets extended the Charlotte Bobcats losing streak to 17 games after defeating them by a final score of 97-81 at Barclays Center.
More importantly, though, the Nets are now 15-14 as they look to put the pieces back together on a season that once looked to be filled with great promise.
Before the game, Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap shared his opinion on Avery Johnson's firing, and he was surprisingly candid.
"I have great compassion for all coaches in that situation... we're not without feeling," Dunlap said. "But it's the way this is and you just kinda have to be a 'next play' kind of guy. You see a lot of the coaches resurface... P.J. [Carlesimo] is a classic example of that."
Dunlap is a first year head coach in the NBA but already knows that head coaches are often the first to go when a team is struggling. At 7-22 and riding a 17 game losing streak, Dunlap has discovered a thing or two about big league struggles.
"The NBA is such a neat league and you have to look at the trends of what goes on and this has been going on for years and years," he said. "Whether it's the NFL, it's Major League Baseball or its the NBA, it's just out there and when you take that chance [of being fired] and when you take that chair, you just accept that it's a bi-product. But don't get discouraged by it, make sure you're good to the people on the way out the door, that's the lesson I've learned."
Dunlap also says that he will put forth a call to Avery Johnson and wish him well. "I'll make a call to Avery," he said. "That, I'll do, and I don't know him but I would do that for anybody and just send out a signal about how much I admire him and leave it at that. Again, it's a tight sandbox, you want to do a good job in that sandbox, but you want to let people know about your compassion for the human side of things."
Coach Dunlap also agrees that being in a big market like New York City and having an owner with deep pockets puts additional pressure on a head coach, because more economic resources typically makes it easier to replace a head coach.
"When you look at the money and the league and the owners and what they've got in their pockets, the key is to be fearless, to coach to your personality and not be knee jerk, back and forth," he said. "When management picks a coach, we're the ones that should be the hallmark on the personality of the team and see if that's a fit. But the fact of the matter is that it's always going to lay at the head coach's feet."
In today's NBA, coaches are on a very short leash. Johnson was fired after only 28 games, but he was the second coach to be relieved of duty this season. Earlier, former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown was fired after the Laker sputtered out to a 1-4 start.
Now in charge of the Nets immediate future. Carlesimo will attempt to earn his fourth NBA head coaching gig, though he seems to know that with other higher profile coaching candidates out there, the deck is stacked against him.